As competition on the web grows, more and more business owners have questions about search engine rankings and what can be done to show up higher, or even show up at all, for certain search terms. This is where SEM and SEO come into play. Here, we review some basics.
So, what are SEO and SEM?
Search Engine Marketing seeks to increase a website's visibility within the search results of a search engine – this can be within the "natural" / "organic" results or in a paid advertising area of the results. An SEM campaign can include many facets – including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Campaigns and more.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) seeks to improve the number and quality of visitors to a web site from "natural" ("organic" or "algorithmic") search results – generally what comes up from a basic search within most search engines. SEO can most easily be explained as implementing content and technical elements in a site that increase the ranking in search engines for specific keywords / phrases.
Where do you start?
If you are just trying to make sure that your site appears in the search engines, there are some very basic steps to take that will help ensure that the search engines will include your site – most of these are technical pieces that your web developer may have implemented on your site when it was first built. If you want to try to increase your ranking in the main search results then an SEO campaign is the way to go. And, if you want to increase your ranking while also showing up in other areas of the search engines (such as in the right column) then you will want to begin a full SEM campaign.
The first step for any SEO / SEM campaign is deciding on keywords and key phrases that you want to focus on for your site. It is important to not only consider the words and phrases that you associate with your organization, but also what keywords / phrases people are actually using in their searches. A good web company can help you do important research into your industry, competitors and audiences to ensure that your SEO and SEM efforts are done strategically to get the most value.
Once the initial decisions have been made, implementation of content edits and technical elements are the next steps. Search Engines are continuously changing their ranking methods or "algorithms" and, in order to maintain your ranking, ongoing changes to your site will need to be made as well.